Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Tradition

One of my husband's New Year's traditions is Sauerkraut and Spareribs.  We have it every year and the holiday wouldn't be the same without it!


1 package spareribs (about 4 lbs)
2 jars Bavarian sauerkraut


Season ribs using your favorite rub.  (Ours is Salt Lick Rub)  Bake in the oven at 250 degrees for 6 hours.  When the ribs are done, place in a large pot.  Add both jars of Bavarian sauerkraut and heat through.  Serve and have a happy New Year!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Frugal Resolutions

Ok, so actually making a resolution is free.  But sometimes keeping them is not.  With that in mind, here's a way to take some of the cost out of attaining your goal.

The U.S. government wants to help you meet those resolutions!  They have quite a few websites that have FREE resources to assist you.

First, go to this website:

Second, choose your resolution.

  • Drink Less Alcohol
  • Eat Healthy Food
  • Get a Better Education
  • Get a Better Job
  • Get Fit
  • Lose Weight
  • Manage Debt
  • Manage Stress
  • Quit Smoking
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
  • Save Money
  • Take a Trip
  • Volunteer to Help Others

  • As you click the link for the resolution you choose, you'll be taken to websites that offer more information.  Some resolutions are tough, and every bit of advantage you can get will help!

    Here's to a successful 2012!!

    Thursday, December 29, 2011

    Frugal Beauty

    As we head into 2012, a lot of women including myself vow to do more to take care of ourselves.  But beauty can be an expensive proposition.  Here are a few tips to make at least your beauty regimen a bit more affordable.

    1.  Samples.  Target and Walmart both offer online sample pages.  I recently received a make-up bag from Target stuffed with beauty samples.  Check both frequently as the samples change.

    2.  VIP clubs.  Brands such as Sephora and Olay offer clubs that you can join.  After joining, you'll receive emails alerting you to free samples and/or giveaways.  Sephora also offers a free gift every year for your birthday!

    3.  Facebook.  "Like" your favorite brands.  I recently received a full size tube of L'Oreal's latest mascara.  Giveaways and samples are frequent so make sure you check their pages on a regular basis.

    4.  Magazines.  Check out the websites for magazines such as Allure, Lucky, Shape, and Self.  In the case of Allure, they often run giveaways on a daily basis for full size beauty products.

    5.  Department stores.  Hit the makeup counters!  Not only can you try the product right then and there, the sales associate will usually provide a sample for you to take home and try.  What looks great in the makeup mirror at the counter might not look so hot under the fluorescent lights at the office so before spending a small fortune on expensive products, try them in the real world!

    These are a few of my tricks.  Here's to a more beautiful 2012!!  (You're already beautiful!!)

    Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    Time for Change

    The new year is approaching.  With that, comes the annual tradition of resolutions.  I've taken a bit of a different approach this year courtesy of A&E TV.

    A&E is running a promotion right now called Real Life Change.  It allows you to choose a resolution and A&E will make a donation to charity for each resolution chosen.

    After registering at Real Life Change, you will see a list of resolutions.  Some are small, some larger.  Some are traditional resolutions such as losing weight or loftier goals such as committing to having better relationships.

    After choosing your personal resolution, you pick which charity you would like your donation to go to.  The list includes such charities as the American Red Cross and St. Jude's.

    My personal resolution?  To follow my dream.  The charity I chose?  The Wounded Warriors Project.

    How about you?

    Tuesday, December 27, 2011

    After Christmas Frugal Tips

    Post Christmas shopping is a great way to do some frugal planning.  Here are a few tips to consider before you shop:

    1.  Wrapping paper.  Try to get wrapping paper in a solid color such as red or gold.  That way, it can be used year round for whatever you need to wrap!

    2.  Bows.  Instead of just seasonal colors, try to find bags of assorted colors.  Again, you can use them all year!

    3.  Winter accessories.  Hats, gloves, and scarves (or sets) are frequently included in the after holiday clearance.  Grab some sets now while on sale and you have ready gifts for the next holiday season.

    4.  Bath or perfume sets.  These sets go on sale after Christmas and make perfect emergency gifts to keep on hand.

    5.  Tool sets.  During the holidays, most mass retailers offer small tool sets as seasonal items.  When they go on sale, snag the deals to use as emergency gifts.

    6.  Gift bags.  Stick with solid colors that are not obviously holiday specific.

    7.  Pet stockings.  Many large stores offer pre-made pet stockings filled with toys.  After Christmas, buy the number you need for your pets while they are half-priced or better and your dogs/cats will be set for next Christmas!

    8.  Food sets.  There are a lot of food gift sets available during the holiday.  Just because you paid half the price after Christmas doesn't mean they taste any different!

    9.  Holiday lights.  Buy clear strands and they can be used to illuminate your deck or decorate trees in your yard for a barbecue in the heat of July!

    10.  Holiday crafts.  They won't hit the stores again until Halloween and by then you'll think you won't have enough time to complete them.  Stock up now while they are on sale and you can work on them at your leisure throughout the year.

    I keep a 10 gallon container marked "Emergency Gifts" in my closet.  I fill it every year after Christmas and never worry all year if an occasion comes up that I wasn't expecting.  With a little planning, you can not only be ready for unexpected occasions but get a jump on next year's holiday too!!

    Happy shopping!!

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Sunday, December 25, 2011

    Merry Christmas!!!

    Wishing all my readers a very Merry Christmas!!

    As you enjoy your day with family and friends, please send love and holiday wishes to our troops, especially those serving overseas who are unable to be with their families this Christmas.

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    A Holiday Cocktail

    Peppermint Martini


    • 5 oz.vanilla Vodka (Stoli)
    • 2 oz.white creme de menthe
    • 1/2 oz.Peppermint Schnapps

    Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a candy cane.  The rim of the glass can also be dipped in red sugar for a festive look!


    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Winding Down

    It's almost over.  Christmas is Sunday and if you're not pretty much may be in a tad bit of trouble!!

    I'm happy to report I'm finished.  Completely, totally done!!!  Everything is wrapped and under the tree.  Even the dogs have a they really need more toys.

    So it's time to switch to relaxation mode.  I already have logs in the fireplace as Austin is actually supposed to be cold this weekend!  Ok...not Wisconsin cold...but cold enough I think I can get away with a fire!  My e-readers are loaded and I have my faux fur throw to cuddle under.

    Now where are those cookies???

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Winter Solstice

    I would like to wish my Pagan and Wiccan readers and friends a joyous Winter Solstice!  Enjoy your holiday!


    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Frugal Stocking Stuffers

    Stockings can get expensive!!  I still make stockings for the boys, even though they are in their 20's so little toys aren't an option.  Here are some ideas for stockings from the dollar store:

    1.  Toothbrush.  You always need one!

    2.  Earphones.  Have you ever noticed how often they're lost or broken?

    3.  Flashlight.  Hubby insists you can never have too many!

    4.  Word Search/Crossword Puzzle Books.  Make them use that brain!

    5.  Ornaments.  You can find some really cute ones for a dollar!

    6.  Booklights.  Always handy, especially when traveling!

    7.  Hairbrush.  You can always use an extra to throw in the glovebox or purse!

    8.  Pens.  To use with the puzzle books!

    9.  Candy.  By the bag, a great value!

    10.  Screwdriver.  Yep, a screwdriver!  How else are you going to get the battery covers off the other gifts?

    So there are a few ideas.  The dollar stores have tons of items perfect for stockings.  Stuff away!!!

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Pardon The Interruption

    Yesterday, I took a self-indulgent moment and wallowed in my Christmas funk.  Although the funk hasn't passed, the moment has.  I have no wish to pull anyone else in with me and need to pull myself out.

    I've notice on various social media that the funk is widespread.  With that in mind, I am making a special effort to ensure that my updates are upbeat, and that I don't participate in personal attacks.  It is my responsibility that I don't spread my mood to others and to make sure no one suffers due to my state of mind.  This is the holiday season and one of the most quoted lines should also be the truest.  "Peace on earth and goodwill towards men."

    Goodwill towards men.  Such a simple statement, but with the anonymity provided by distance and the keyboard, how often is this premise abandoned?  This holiday season, why don't we keep that concept front and center in both our personal and online relationships?  If you don't think you can manage the entire season...why not start with just one hour at a time?  When you've succeeded with that first hour, every hour thereafter will be easier and easier to accomplish.

    So I wish you all the joy and wonder of the season from a heart filled with love.


    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Blue Christmas

    I made it to the finish line.  All the gifts are completed, wrapped, and shipped.  And then my complete Christmas came completely unraveled.

    My youngest son is leaving Tuesday to take a job on the other side of the state.  Now, in most states, this wouldn't be a big deal.  But this is Texas which means he will be 9 1/2 hours away.  Not a trip that can be taken on a whim or even a weekend.  I won't see him for months.

    He is the child who spends the most time at home on the holiday.  With his absence, that means all of the carefully laid plans are out the window.  His older brother will cut his time at home even shorter knowing his little brother won't be there.

    The worst part of an empty nest?  When the chicks fly so far from home.  I'm still a mom, regardless of the empty nest.  I still want my children close...just not in my house.  To have one leave and go so far just days before Christmas has my heart hurting.

    My merry Christmas has turned blue this year.

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    A Christmas Cookie



    1 cup of butter, room temperature
    1/2 cup sugar
    2 eggs, room temperature
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    Pinch of salt
    2 cups flour
    3/4 cup of raspberry jam
    Parchment paper


    Cream butter and sugar on high speed for about three minutes.

    Separate eggs.  Add yolks and vanilla extract to butter mixture.

    Add flour and salt.  Mix until just combined.  Place dough in the fridge for 30 minutes and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Roll the dough into balls about one inch in diameter.  Place the balls on parchment lined cookie sheets.

    Press down with your thumb to make a well in the center of each cookie.  Don't press hard or the cookie will crumble!  Fill each well with 1/2 teaspoon of jam.

    Bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly firm.  Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.

    Makes 2 dozen cookies.


    Friday, December 16, 2011

    A Frugal Party

    One of my favorite frugal Christmas parties is the cookie exchange.  An easy premise and it knocks out some of your holiday baking at the same time!

    First, choose five friends...preferably five who can actually bake!  Ask them to bring six dozen of their favorite holiday cookie.  That's one dozen for each guest and a dozen to share at the party.

    As hostess, you'll provide the drinks (coffee, eggnog, something stronger).  Platters to serve the cookies can be obtained at your local dollar store.  You can also grab some gift bags while there so your guests can carry their cookies home.

    After an evening of fun with your girlfriends, your holiday baking is done!!  You and your guests will have a nice variety of cookies, enough to satisfy Santa and the elves!

    Happy baking!!

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    The Wall

    I've hit it.  Full force.  I overslept this morning, it's raining, and I feel like a slug.

    Christmas is rapidly approaching.  I still have a mountain of projects to complete, not to mention all the baking.  But it took me hours to even get to write this blog this morning, including having to reboot my router.  I'm just now eating breakfast and it's almost noon.

    It's time to dig pull motivation out of some deep well I'm not even sure I possess.  This wall is so high and so thick that I'm even tempted to pull out my credit card just so I can be done!!  If you've read my blog know that is NOT my idea of frugal!!

    So here I go!!  Time to pull myself up by the bootstraps and wade back in to the fray!  If you don't hear from me tomorrow...I may be buried under it!!

    And those are my random thoughts this morning...

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Christmas Chaos

    There is one room in my house that is solely mine.  It is my sewing room, my office, my craft room, my library, my workout room, and oh also functions as the guest room!  With Christmas preparations in full swing, it has now become a wrapping station as well.

    Needless to say, the room is in complete chaos.  There is no room to sit other than the chair I'm currently planted on and walking room is down to one path from the door to the chair!  There are handmade gifts in various stages of completion everywhere.  There are gifts to be wrapped and sent.  There are gifts to go under the tree.  Every surface is covered with something that needs something done!

    My goal for today?  Get to the point where I can actually distinguish what I need to do.  Emotionally, I feel like I'm wasting time when I should be working on projects but the truth is, if I don't get organized I won't get anything accomplished!!

    So with my eyes on that prize, here I go wading in to the chaos!  Wish me luck!!!

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    The Most Frugal Gift of All

    What could it be?  Your love and your time.  There are a multitude of ways you can give of yourself without spending a dime.

    Visit a friend.  If you haven't seen them in a while, just the sight of your face will be a gift.  Conversation with a friend is a priceless gift.

    Stop by the home of an elderly friend and clean their baseboards.  Sounds too simple, doesn't it?  But think how difficult that one chore can be for someone getting up in years.

    Babysit.  A young family may not be able to afford a dinner out when you add the cost of a babysitter.  Take away that cost and let them enjoy their evening.  Or give a single mother the opportunity to do the grocery shopping without having to juggle the diaper bag, the car seat, and the groceries!

    Girls' night in.  Throw in a dvd and hit the couch with your girlfriends for a night of comedy or scare each other silly!  You not only catch up on the latest flick...but on each other's lives.

    A hug.  Yes, a hug.  The only gift guaranteed to double in value as soon as you share it.  Those few seconds can make a significant difference in someone's day.

    Just a few ideas...I'm sure you can come up with dozens more.  Remember, the most precious gifts are those from your heart.


    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Just Lucky

    Sometimes being frugal isn't a matter of hard work or diligence.  Sometimes it's just a matter of being lucky.

    Yesterday, Hubby and I were out shopping.  After leaving a store, we noticed that a Dollar General nearby was closing it's location.  We decided to check it out just in case there was something left we could use.

    Hubby wears reading glasses.  I usually have pairs strategically stationed all over the house.  You'll find a pair on the dining room table, next to his chair, in the garage, etc.  Or you should.  For some reason, they keep disappearing.  Part of it is the fact he will walk away still wearing them and I personally believe they then go to hang out with the missing socks!

    When we walked in the store yesterday, one of the first things I saw was a box of reading glasses.  Eight pairs in the strength he wears!!  There was no sign saying how much they were but they were on sale and at this point I didn't care.  The hunt for glasses whenever I wanted him to read something was getting old!

    So I grabbed all eight pairs and added them to the cookies that had miraculously appeared in the basket he was holding.  At checkout, I was thrilled to find out they were 60 cents a pair!!

    Being frugal can be a drudge.  There are times you want something, not need, just want and you know it's not in the budget.  Then there are other times when you get lucky and score something you need for a great price.  And that feels pretty good!

    What lucky deal have you scored?

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    An Easy Frugal Treat

    Elephant Ears


    1 package flour tortillas
    Cinnamon Sugar (I use McCormick's)


    Heat oil (about 1/2 inch deep) in frying pan.  Put one tortilla in for about 5-10 seconds.  Turn with tongs and repeat for other side.  It will "puff" after turning.  Remove from pan using tongs and put in a container containing cinnamon sugar.  Close container tightly and shake to coat the tortilla with the sugar.


    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Frugal Gift Ideas

    Here are a few frugal gift ideas.  It is possible to share Christmas joy without breaking the bank!!

    1.  Gourmet coffee with a cute coffee mug

    2.  A journal with a personal inscription from you inside the front cover, add a fancy pen.

    3.  A pretty teacup with a variety of teas

    4.  Homemade mixes in a pretty jar

    5.  Basket filled with sewing or craft supplies

    6.  Cloth napkins with seasonal napkin rings

    7.  Gardening gloves with a variety of seed packets

    8.  Bath puff and guest soaps

    9.  Crock filled with kitchen gadgets

    10.  Personalized stationery made on your computer

    Now these are only a few of the gazillion of ideas out there!!  Any of them can be assembled, created, etc. for under ten dollars.  Let your imagination go wild!

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    A Frugal Girls Night: Update

    So last night didn't exactly go as planned.  Big surprise, huh?  Isn't that the way life usually works?

    We get to the restaurant and the entree special (steak and lobster) that we were planning on ordering was no longer on special.  Ok, time to regroup.

    We had a coupon for a free appetizer with the purchase of an entree.  My friend decided all she wanted was the Extreme Nachos while I ordered the entree of steak and shrimp.  Those!!  Seriously, that plate was big enough and mounded high enough to provide a complete meal for three!!  Even with drinks, our bill still came in under $30 and we were both so stuffed we could barely walk!  The free appetizer took $8 off our bill.

    As we left, there was a pair of older women coming in.  We took the $5 off coupon we didn't use and gave it to them for their girls night.  Enjoying their surprised thanks, we wished them a Merry Christmas and went on our way.  After all, isn't the best part of being frugal being able to share?

    So when you head out to eat, and you have that extra coupon...share and spread some joy!!

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    A Frugal Girls Night

    Tonight I get to spend the evening with one of my best friends.  We both lead pretty busy lives so our goal is to get together at least once a quarter.  Tonight is the night for this quarter!

    But how to have a girls night on a budget?  It's not easy, but with a little planning we're going to pull it off!

    First, we're eating at a restaurant we have coupons for.  And we're going to be ordering an entree they currently have on special.  All things considered...we're talking steak and lobster for two for under a total of $30!!  Not too bad!

    On to the exchange of Christmas gifts!  My friend is just as frugal (read:  cheap!) as I am and I know that whatever I receive, she paid at least 50% off retail!  On my end, my gift to her is handmade.  We also both go in to the exchange knowing that if the need for re-gifting arises...we will do so without offense!

    The most important part of the night and the part that costs absolutely nothing?  Time spent with a friend I love and adore.  I can't emphasize enough, especially to my younger readers, the importance of girlfriends in your life.  As we age and especially in this empty nest phase, these relationships are precious and priceless.  And it's not just girlfriends.  I have male friends that I have close relationships with that I wouldn't trade for anything!!

    Remember this holiday's not how much you spend or how expensive the experience.  It's the time spent with the ones you love!!


    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Quick and Frugal

    Below is the recipe for a quick and frugal gift.  If you buy a case of pint size canning jars, this can be made in bulk.  It makes a perfect hostess gift or it's good to stash away for when you need that emergency gift when someone unexpected arrives at your door!

    Peppermint Bath Salts


    3 cups Epsom salts
    1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract
    1 tsp sugar
    2-4 drops red food coloring


    1.  Stir all ingredients together
    2.  Pour the salts into a jar or bottle with a reclosable top.  I recommend pint canning jars.
    3.  Attach a label to the jar with the following instructions:

    Instructions for Use:

    Sprinkle a small scoop of the salts under your running bath water.  Relax in the fragrant water!

    These salts will keep indefinitely as long as they are stored in a sealed container.  For a different take, substitute lemon extract and yellow food coloring in the ingredients.

    Happy creating!!

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Happy Monday!!

    Last Monday, I did a post about being starved for time.  This Monday, I'm looking around my office/sewing room/craft room/guest room and there are piles of Christmas presents in various stages of construction.  Sigh...

    I'm meeting a friend for dinner on Wednesday so obviously her gift was the priority.  And it's complete and ready to be given!  One down, an unbelievable number to go!!!  To be honest, if it was in my budget?  I would send everyone on my list an e-gift code and be done with it!!  But it's not and I want my friends and family to have gifts that come from my heart.  So onward I go!

    To be honest, I'm enjoying myself.  It's been a while since I held a needle in my hands.  To cover jewelry making, crochet, latch hook, and embroidery in the course of only a few days feels good.  I'm a bit rusty, and it's taking some effort to get my groove back, but I am enjoying the creativity and peacefulness that comes with handiwork.  I guess I'm not just giving gifts...I'm receiving one also.

    So as a cold front barrels towards Central Texas, I'll make myself a hot mug of tea, pick up my needle, and put my love in to my gifts.

    Enjoy your week!!


    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    Frugal Treat!!

    Homemade Orange Drink (Like found at a national chain!)


    1/3 cup frozen orange juice
    1/2 cup cold water
    1/2 cup cold milk
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 cups crushed ice

    Put first five ingredients in to blender.  Add ice, blend until smooth and frothy.  A delicious treat for under a dollar!!


    Friday, December 2, 2011

    An Interesting Week

    If you've followed the trend of my blog posts this week (and of course, I know you have!), you've noticed that they all seem to have to do with saving money.

    I guess that is due to the season.  Striving for the perfect Christmas on a non-existent budget has my brain focused on what I can save and where. my brain overloads, it spills out on to my blog!!  The upside?  I get to share the tips and tricks I've learned with all of you!!

    A lot of families in this country are struggling this Christmas.  As you're out shopping, pick up a couple extra cans to donate to your local food bank.  For just a couple of bucks, you can make sure a child has something to eat on Christmas day.  If you're able, pick up a few toys for Toys for Tots and lend the Marines a hand in their yearly drive.  When you walk past that red Salvation Army bucket, throw in your change.  Hopefully, with the tips I've shared over the last few months, you can share some of your savings and winnings!

    Enjoy your weekend, everybody!!


    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    More Free Books

    I've found another resource for free ebooks.  As if the 3000+ I already have on my Kindle and Nook weren't enough...I found a site that will give me lists for both on a daily basis!!

    FREE eBook Deal is a website that tracks free books for both the Kindle and the Nook.  At the current time, these are the only two formats available.  There are a number of ways to get these free books from this site.

    First, you can follow them on Twitter.  You can find them here.  Each day, they will tweet a list of books available for each device.

    Second, you can visit their website daily.  On the website, you can search by both device and genre.  This is especially helpful if you only want one particular genre and don't want to have to sort through an entire list to find it.

    Lastly, you can have the daily list emailed to you.  You can choose whether to have one or both formats emailed.  If you choose both formats, they come in separate emails which makes it convenient and easy for downloading.

    So add this site to your favorites, follow on Twitter, and join the email list!  Enjoy your free books!!! 

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Frugal Dining

    Did you know you can go out to eat and still save money?  For a lot of people, dining out is a luxury...I'm one of them.  But I've found a couple of ways to save enough money that I can enjoy a meal out and not stress about what it's doing to my budget.

    1.  Find your favorite restaurants' websites.  Many of them offer email clubs you can join.  With that membership, you'll frequently receive coupons for buy one, get one free entrees.  You'll also receive coupons for free appetizers or desserts and usually a free offer for your birthday.

    2.  "Like" your favorites on Facebook.  In addition to the free coupons listed in number 1, the fan pages will often run giveaways or instant win games for gift cards, free food, etc.  In addition, you'll be the first to know about new menu items and special promotions.

    3.  "Follow" your favorites on Twitter.  As listed in numbers 1 and 2, the same deals are sent out in tweets to followers.  At times, Twitter will be the only place to score the deal as they run Twitter only promotions. Subway does that exact thing on a regular basis.

    Most of these offers won't get you a 100 percent free meal.  But when you only have to pay for one entree rather than two, it does move a dinner out from the "not going to happen" category to the "we can afford this" category.  Everybody deserves a treat or a night off duty in the kitchen.  These are ways you can have that without the guilt!!

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Why I Do It

    I get asked frequently why I enter things on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Let me explain.

    I haven't paid for shampoo or conditioner in over a year.  Add to that list deodorant, razors, and books.  We're not talking sample size here...we're talking full size products.  I've scored an Apple TV, a gemstone bracelet, free food, free dog snacks, and free clothes.  I've attended more concerts than I can count, eaten free entrees at numerous restaurants, and gone to see free movies.  A lot of events I've been able to share with friends and that is priceless.

    In this economy, every saved penny counts.  So for the price of a couple hours a day of my time, I can make an impact on the family budget.  I usually spend less than two hours a day "hunting" online but every free product I get is less money that has to come out of our pockets.  The concerts, dinners, and movies?  Those are treats we wouldn't even consider if they weren't free.

    I've seen the people on TV who make thousands of dollars a year winning sweepstakes, etc.  I'm not that extreme.  I will occasionally take more time and do a "push" and enter a large number at once.  I did just that this past Saturday in hopes of scoring some Christmas gifts.  In general, I am more than happy with what I do get.  Like I said, every free thing that comes through the door is money saved.

    Now you know why I do it.  I'm blessed to be one of those "lucky" people who win things.  My secret?  I enter!!!  There's no reason why anyone can't do the same!!

    Good luck and happy hunting!!!

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    I'm Starved!!

    I'm starved!!  Time starved that is.  As Christmas rapidly approaches, I feel the yearly panic set in of too much to do and too little time.

    Did they change the date of Christmas?  No...same time every year.  And every year I seem to lose time and it's here before I know it.  It's my own fault and at my age I should and do know better.  There are numerous projects I could have started months ago and didn't.  Now, they'll be crammed in to an already busy day or shelved for the year altogether.

    Here is my Christmas wish for this year.  That next year I'll do better.  That I will plan rather than procrastinate.  That I will spread it out over the year and not wake up Thanksgiving morning in terror! least those are my intentions!!  Check back with me at the end of November 2012 and see how I did!!

    And those are my random thoughts this morning...

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    A Frugal Meal

    Tamale Pie


    1 1/2 lbs ground beef
    1 jar salsa
    1 can green chilies
    2 cups pepper jack or Mexican blend cheese, shredded, divided
    2 boxes cornbread mix
    1 can refried beans
    1 can whole kernel corn, drained


    In a bowl, prepare cornbread according to the package directions and add 1/2 can of corn.  Set aside.  In a skillet, brown the ground beef and drain.  In a large bowl, combine browned ground beef, salsa, chilies, remaining corn, and 1 cup of the cheese.  In a 13x9 pan (well greased), spread the refried beans.  Top with meat mixture and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Top with prepared cornbread mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and cornbread topping is lightly browned.


    Friday, November 25, 2011

    A Black Friday Reminder

    Today is Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.  But before you head out the door, a gentle reminder.

    The season isn't all about the gifts.  The excess of today is not worth the stress of figuring out how to pay the piper later.  What is under the tree does not measure how much you love someone or the gift recipient's love for you.

    That being said, I know the deals are hard to resist!  On both today and Cyber Monday, the temptation is certainly real and tangible.  Will I fall?  Probably!!  But in this economy I will be a much harder sell.  Retailers will have to work and work hard to get my money this year.

    So go forth and shop!!  Just remember what January will feel like when the bills start to arrive!

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Thanksgiving Day

    This morning, I am participating in Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot in Austin.  It's the 21st year for the Turkey Trot and my third year running.

    The Turkey Trot benefits Caritas of Austin.  Caritas is an agency that provides rent, food, and utility assistance for low income people in Austin.

    This race is my way of honoring Thanksgiving.  Helping those less fortunate, even in a small way, is the best way I can think of to give thanks.

    As you gather today with loved ones, give thanks for your blessings and send up an extra prayer for those in need this holiday season.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!!


    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Thank You

    As we look forward to Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, I wish to offer all of you my thanks.

    I appreciate each and every one of my readers on this blog.  All of you who like my Facebook Fan Page.  All of you who follow me on Twitter.  All of you who follow my blog.  I am grateful that you spend just a bit of your day with me and that you've joined me on this journey.

    I wish you all a stress-free, loving, laughter filled, and blessed Thanksgiving Day!


    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Product Review: Snuggle

    Recently I received a sample of Snuggle Exhilarations White Lilac and Spring Flowers.

    Wow!!  Not only does it do a wonderful job of softening...this is a great scent!  And I'm talking a scent so good that even Hubby commented on how good the sheets smelled.  And that's saying something!!

    Snuggle is currently running a sweepstakes on Facebook where the grand prize is a new washer and dryer!  Like Snuggle and enter here:

    And the next time you're at the grocery store, pick up some Snuggle'll love the scent and how soft your laundry is!!

    Disclaimer:  I received a free sample of Snuggle Exhilarations White Lilac and Spring Flowers as a member of smiley360.  All opinions stated above are strictly my own.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    My Friend List

    I was looking at my friend list on Facebook the other day and realized I am incredibly blessed.  I have a large number of friends that I have known for over 30 years.  I'm not referring to those friends such as my mom...because obviously she's known me the longest!

    I am referring to the friends with whom I went to grade school.  Yes, grade school.  We're still alive and kicking!!  I attended a Lutheran grade school with an 8th grade graduating class of all of 17 kids!  I actually play Words with Friends on a daily basis with one of my classmates.

    I am referring to the friends with whom I went to high school.  A small town high school, I was fortunate last year to attend my 30 year reunion and reconnect with friends.  As I now live in Texas, it was a treat to return to Wisconsin!

    I am referring to the friends with whom I served in the Air Force.  I entered the Air Force at age 17 and the experience played a huge role in shaping who I have become.  I count these friends as some of the best friends I have ever had or will have in my life.

    And by no means am I discounting more recent friends.  Former co-workers who bring laughter to my life on a daily basis.  Bloggers I've admired who've moved beyond co-bloggers to personal friends.  People I've met through mutual friends who have become near and dear to my heart.

    If you're feeling a little down...look around.  Look at your profile on Facebook, Google Plus, BlogHer, The BlogFrog, LinkedIn, MySpace.  Every friend is a blessing.

    And those are my random thoughts this morning...

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    A Family Favorite



    1 lb ground beef
    1/2 cup uncooked rice
    1/4 cup finely chopped onion
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1 egg
    2 cans tomato sauce (8 oz)
    1 cup water


    Combine ground beef, rice, onion, salt, pepper, and egg.  Shape into meatballs, approximately 10 to 15.  In a skillet, bring the tomato sauce and water to a boil.  Add meatballs and cover.  Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.


    Friday, November 18, 2011

    A Necessary Splurge

    I do a lot of posts on being frugal.  I enjoy finding the best deal I can on almost everything.  But there are some things that are necessary splurges.  Allow me to explain...

    I frequently purchase fresh flowers.  I enjoy having them in my home.  Seeing them nurtures my soul and brings me a sense of calm and peace.

    This bouquet is currently on my dining room table.  (The pink rose is my survivor rose I received after crossing the finish line at the Race for the Cure.)  The bouquet was not expensive.  In fact, it's two $4 bouquets combined in one vase.  A total of $8 that is now lasting into it's second week.  Not a huge splurge except in terms of the enjoyment it has brought me.

    Being frugal does not equal deprivation.  Whether it is fresh flowers, a new book, or a movie ticket...the things that feed our hearts and soul are just as necessary as the food on our table.  For $10 dollars or less, is there really a better value?

    And those are my random thoughts this morning...

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Product Review: Coy Clothes

    I'm in love!!  Ok, it's with an article of clothing...but it's still love!!!  And you'll fall in love too with Coy Clothes!!

    This has to be the softest, most comfortable shirt I have ever owned in my entire life!!  Seriously...I could live in it.

    The fit is incredible and it is so so so soft!!  Did I mention it's soft?  The quality of the workmanship is outstanding.  It has held it's shape through multiple wearings and washings.  The shirt is constructed from rayon made from bamboo (who knew rayon could come from bamboo?) and organic cotton.  So in addition to how good it feels to wear it, you feel good about what you're wearing!!

    Now a confession.  Just so you know what a complete and total blonde I am...I owned and wore this shirt for MONTHS before I ever noticed this tag near the neckline on the back!  I love it!!

    In addition to the quality of the shirt, I love the sense of humor that goes in to each design.  Speaking of is the shirt I'm planning on adding to my closet:

    Check out Coy Clothes at the website and give them a like on the Facebook Fan Page!  I know you'll be happy you did!!

    Disclaimer:  I received my shirt after winning it on another blog's giveaway.  All opinions expressed are solely my own including the resulting addiction!

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    An Ipad An Hour!!

    Have you hear of ZAGG?  ZAGG is an online retailer for gadget accessories.  Back in 2010, they began an addictive giveaway of an iPad a week.  I literally became obsessed with entering every day by every means! Then...this past February, they started a giveaway of an iPad a day!  And I went for it!!  Now they have outdone themselves!!

    Starting at midnight (MST) on November 25th, ZAGG will be giving away an iPad an hour!!  Yes, I said an hour!!  It will last for 24 hours so that's 24 iPads available to be won!!

    All you have to do to enter is enter your email address here.  For additional entries, you can also share the giveaway on Facebook and Twitter.  Trust me, I'll be doing all three!!!

    While you're at ZAGG, be sure to check out their great accessories!!  And just to be sure you have it, here's the link again to enter:

    Good luck, everybody!!

    Disclaimer:  This blog post was written and submitted to ZAGG for an extra entry every hour.  All opinions stated are strictly my own.

    The Kindle Library

    When I first heard Kindle was adding a lending library, I was thrilled!!  After using the library, I'm still happy...but a long way from thrilled.

    First, you must be a member of Amazon Prime to access the library.  Personally, not an issue as I've been a member of Prime for a long time.  Other Kindle users, however, may not be willing to pay the yearly fee of $79.  For me, a huge portion of my online shopping is through Amazon so I recoup the fee in free shipping.  If the only reason you use Amazon is for your Kindle, it may not be worth the cost.

    Second, you are only allowed to borrow one book from the library per month.  One book!!!  I am an avaricious reader and can finish a best seller in 24 hours.  So I have to wait another 29 days before I can borrow another book.  On this point, I would have to call this a major fail.

    A suggestion from this humble Kindle addict?  Instead of the standard "remove from device" option which sends books to your archive, replace it with a "Return Borrowed Book".  Once the book has been returned, your access to it would be removed and you would be free to borrow another book.

    But the bottom line?  Free is free.  And you won't get too many complaints from me when it comes to free!  I'll continue to borrow my one book a month until I make my way through the entire library.

    Have you borrowed from the Kindle library yet?

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Homemade Christmas

    Along with millions of other, Christmas will be a tad tight around our nest this year.  I've been digging through my craft supplies and recipes for ideas for gifts.

    I've given homemade gifts in the past and have always felt guilty about doing so.  I hate that I can't always afford the latest and greatest for my friends and family.  And I've also received my share of verbal smackdowns for feeling that way!!

    What I've learned?  When you give a homemade gift, you are also giving yourself.  You are telling the recipient "Here is my time.  Here is my talent.  Here is my love."  That is the true gift you are giving, regardless of the value.

    I've resolved this year that there will be no guilt and no apologies.  Whatever the gift I give, it is presented with all my love and the meaning of the holiday.  Now I better get my butt to work!!!

    And those are my random thoughts this morning...

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    I've Arrived.

    As a blogger, I feel as if I've officially arrived.  What do I mean?  Well, I've had blog posts and what I've written twisted, used by other people for their own agenda, and used as an emotional weapon against both myself and others.

    I've made it clear from the beginning of this blog that what I write is about my life, my experiences, and my adventures as an empty-nester.  But there remain people who are convinced that my words are aimed at, directed at, inspired by, and written about them.  Can I convince them otherwise?  Probably not.  The factors that convince them of their belief are the same ones that will negate any effort on my part.  The insecurities, the fear, and even the hate that they assign to my words comes from within them and not my words.

    I've learned not to take it personally.  Like my children leaving my now empty nest, once my words are out there...they are no longer solely my own.  As with children, when they leave the nest you have hopes for what they will become.  And as with children again, they take routes not only unseen but sometimes dangerous.  This was a difficult lesson to learn.  It means giving up control over something that means a tremendous deal and realizing that all I can do now is sit back, watch, and pray.

    With that lesson learned, there are also rewards.  I know I've made my readers laugh and I've made some cry. I've touched hearts and funny bones.  Is there evil along with the good?  Yes, it has appeared.  But that still means I reached something inside of someone.  How they choose to handle that touch is on them, not me.  And I'm ok with that.  It wasn't an easy journey to get to that point and sometimes it still stings.  I'm learning to handle it.

    So with the same love I sent with my children as they left the nest...I send these words out into cyberspace.


    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Austin's Race for the Cure

    Today is the Race for the Cure in Austin.  As I drag these old bones out of bed, my heart is full for the beautiful, strong women I am walking for.

    So on this Sunday morning, turn to the precious woman in your life.  Give her a big hug from me and send up a quick prayer that this old broad finishes the race!

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    For Two

    Praline Ham


    2 (1/2 inch thick) ham slices, cooked.
    1/2 cup maple syrup
    3 Tbsp brown sugar
    1 Tbsp butter
    1/3 cup chopped pecans


    Heat ham slices in a shallow pan for 10 minutes at 325 degrees.  Bring syrup, sugar, and butter to a boil in a small saucepan.  Stir often.  Stir pecans into syrup mixture.  Spoon mixture over ham.  Warm in oven for an additional 20 minutes.


    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Veterans' Day 2011

    A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a check made payable to "The
     United States of America" for an amount of "up to and including my life".

    To my fellow veterans, a heartfelt thank you for your service.

    And to my friends and family still on active duty:  

    From one who wore the uniform then, a salute to those who wear it now.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    For Wonderful Women

    On this upcoming Sunday, I will be participating in the Austin Race for the Cure.  I'm participating not only as a survivor but for those I've lost and those who've fought and won.

    To my best friend Judy:  I miss you each and every day.  I hate that this disease took you away from me.  I still pick up things while I'm shopping, thinking how much you would love it...only to realize I have no one to buy it for and put it back on the shelf.  I wear the dress you made me and feel your love all around me.  I know you're watching over me and I only hope I make you proud.

    To Jessie, Janet, and Tracey:  You are all incredible women.  Your strength is an inspiration to all.  I, and all who know you, are blessed to have you in our lives.  Whether as wives, mothers, sisters, are the best of that precious thing...a survivor.  You are beautiful and I am honored and proud to wear your names on my tag as I walk on Sunday.

    With love in my heart, I walk for all the wonderful women.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Refreshingly Polite

    This morning I had an appointment downtown.  For my own sanity, I took the bus rather than brave the horrible traffic.  And I was lucky enough to witness a heartwarming event.

    As I climbed the bus steps, I bade the driver "Good Morning!".  I was appreciative of the fact I didn't need to drive!  But as I took my seat and enjoyed the ride, I noticed something.  Every single person getting on the bus this morning told the driver good morning.  And every single one said "Thank you" as they exited at their stop.

    Now, it seems like just a little thing, but it's one of those little things that really count.  We get so busy and so caught up in our fast-paced lives that the simplest of courtesies fall by the wayside.  To hear so many people observe that courtesy on just a regular Wednesday morning did my heart and soul a world of good.

    So many today lament the fate of humanity.  But doesn't what happened this morning say that there is still so much good in the world.  Just a few simple words can remind you that people still care enough to say "Thank you".

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Is It Still Monday?? it still Monday?  I've been running around all day and feel like I'm not gaining an inch of ground!  I can't use the kids as an nest is empty!  Even the dogs are asleep, so I can't blame them either.

    I guess part of my problem today is that I left some things I needed to do until the last minute.  I'm really good at that!  Part is that new things have appeared that I wasn't expecting.  Like the hubby telling me he needs my old laptop set up for him because he needs to take it to training next week.  Training?  What training?  Oh, I know...that training he THINKS he told me about!

    At least I got all my running around done this morning before the rain hit.  Yes, it's actually raining in Austin!!  Not a lot, but every drop that falls is a gift!  The rain does make for a perfect time to get some things done in my "office".

    So enjoy your day, everybody!  It's back to the salt mines for this girl!!


    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Product Review: Pam Cooking Spray

    I recently received a promo kit to test Pam cooking spray.  As I have to cook dinner anyways, it wasn't that hard to enjoy this product review!

    As part of the review, I received the items in the picture above free of charge.  They included the Pyrex baking dish, spatula, coupon for a free can of Pam, and a coupon for a free can of Hunt's tomatoes.  The package also contained a recipe pamphlet and I chose King Ranch Chicken to make for dinner last night.

    Before assembling, I sprayed the baking dish with Pam olive oil spray.  I'm "trying" to be healther so that's why I chose the olive oil option.  Above you'll see the Pam I chose and the assembled King Ranch Chicken ready to go in the oven!  And now after baking...

    And look!!  Nothing stuck!!!

    The pan cleaned up beautifully!!  Now I've tried the store brand sprays and did not get anywhere near the great results I got with Pam!  You can click here for a coupon off your next can: Pam .

    And here is the recipe I used for the King Ranch Chicken.  I did make some substitutions and those are in parentheses behind the ingredients.

    King Ranch Chicken:


    Pam Original No-Stick Cooking Spray (I used Olive Oil)
    1/4 cup Fleischmann's Original-stick (I used butter)
    1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (I skipped...Hubby hates them!)
    1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
    1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
    1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
    1 can (10 oz) RoTel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained (I used Hunt's)
    2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (I used 3 cups, more meaty!)
    12 corn tortillas (6 inch), torn into bite-size pieces
    2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used Mexican blend)


    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

    Melt Fleischmann's in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add bell pepper and onion; cook and stir about 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in both soups, undrained tomatoes, and chicken.

    Layer one-third each of tortillas, chicken mixture, and cheese evenly in dish.  Repeat layers twice more.  Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.


    Disclaimer:  I received these free products to review as a member of Smiley360.  The opinions above are strictly my own.

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Fall Back!!

    Did you remember to turn back your clocks?  And did you remember to change the batteries in your smoke detectors?  An additional hint:  I also change the battery backups in the alarm clocks too!!

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Perfect for a Fall Snack!

    Molasses Cookies


    1 cup baking mix
    1/3 cup molasses
    1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 Tbsp confectioners' sugar


    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray and set aside.  Combine the first four ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on to the cookie sheets.  Bake for 4 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly golden brown.  Sprinkle sugar over the cookies.

    Yield:  2 dozen

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    It's Almost Time

    As I type, I'm watching my black lab Max.  He's getting up in years and I know his time is running short.  At almost 14, he's had a good life after starting out as a rescue.  He's fat and happy and spoiled rotten.

    But last night, he had a rough night.  Lots of whimpering in his sleep and a few trips outside.  No longer can he wait all night like he once did.  I'm not sure if the whimpering was from pain or dreams but I'm really hoping beyond hope that it was all dreams.  His eyesight has begun to fade and you can see it takes him a few seconds longer to focus.  His hearing?  Well, he's a male after all.  That's always been selective.

    But there are still flashes of the old Max.  I have a loveseat in my office and he has no problem jumping up on it to sleep.  Yes, that's one rule that has fallen by the wayside as he's aged.  The furniture is no longer off limits to him.  His comfort now comes before keeping the furniture immaculate.  A lot of the hair he sheds now is white along with the black.  He can shed all over for all I care...he's earned it with a long life of devotion.

    The thought of losing him breaks my heart but I know the time is approaching when I will have to make that horrible decision.  Until then, Max can do whatever he wants, wherever he wants.  I'll make sure his remaining time is as happy as I can make it.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    This New Economy

    Quite a few of my friends refer to me as the Queen of Cheap.  By necessity and now habit, I hate to pay retail for anything and prefer free!!  In our current economy, the tips and tricks I've learned over the years are most definitely coming in handy.  So over the next few weeks, I'll share some of the lessons I've learned.  Please feel free to add tips of your own...I'm always willing and eager to learn more!!

    1.  Get a crockpot!!  Even the cheapest cut of meat will be delicious after 8-10 hours in a crockpot with your favorite gravy/seasonings.  Bonus tip:  Most crockpots have removable inserts.  Assemble your meal the night before and keep in the fridge.  Plug it in in the morning and dinner will be ready when you get home from work!

    2.  Use coupons!!  Now I'm not one of those extreme couponers like on TV.  I normally save about 10 to 20 percent a week.  But coupons are basically manufacturers saying "Here's free money!".  Wouldn't you prefer to keep that $20 in your pocket?  Bonus tip:  There are numerous bloggers who post store match-ups each week matching your particular grocery store's weekly ad with available coupons.  That will save you even more!

    3.  Check for reduced meat!!  Most meat sections in major grocery stores have reduced meat that is approaching the sell by date.  In most instances, it can be reduced 50% or more.  There is nothing wrong with this meat as long as you use it day of purchase or IMMEDIATELY freeze it.  Bonus tip:  Before freezing, separate large packages in to the serving size you'll need upon thawing.  You want it to remain frozen until you need it!

    4.  Use store brands!!  For canned goods in particular, these are a great bargain, sometimes 30-40% less than name brand.  Those savings then make up for those items you absolutely refuse to do without the name brand.  Bonus tip:  Store brands are perfect for those items that are used in cooking something else...soups, vegetables, etc.

    5.  Watch for in-store sales!!  These are unadvertised items that the store has on sale or has coupons displayed on the shelf.  These frequently include buy one item, get another free.  Free is good!!  Bonus tip:  If these are not products you would normally buy...don't get drawn in by free or discounted!!  Spending money on something you can't use isn't saving!!

    Have a great day, everybody!!

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011


    Before the advent of e-readers, most people's TBR (To Be Read) consisted of a precariously stacked mix of hardback and paperback books on the nightstand.  At the high end, we're talking maybe 10 to 20 books.  I know my own TBR frequently crashed to the floor when it got out of control.

    With my Nook and my Kindle?  My TBR is currently over 3000!!  Not all are full length novels, some are short stories, essays, and novellas.  I'm a fan of almost every genre...reading everything from Anna Karenina to the latest zombie book.  If I had to pick a favorite...definitely psychological thrillers.  But I don't turn down a book!  And with all the different ways to get free e-books, I download around a hundred items a week!

    Let me be honest, though.  Some of them I can't read all the way through.  The publishing world has changed.  Anyone can now self-publish to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.  No longer does a novel have to survive the gauntlet of obtaining an agent, finding a publisher, withstanding editing, and actually making it to the sales floor of a bookstore.  And some of the books I've downloaded would never have made it.  As much as I love to read, there are those books out there that I just can't make it through.  Whether due to grammar so awful I cringe or plot lines so convoluted as to be incomprehensible...there are books I delete after just a chapter or two.  I hate to do it but the saving grace is that I remember they were free.  It's only about one in twenty that actually bite the dust.  Thank God I didn't have to pay for them!

    As winter approaches, I'm looking forward to curling up in a blanket in front of a fire and reading to my heart's content.  Revisiting old favorites like Jane Eyre and Treasure Island.  Discovering new authors like Darian Wilk and C. L. Bevill.  Losing myself in other worlds, other times, other lives.

    What's on your TBR?

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Letting Go

    Do you find yourself stuck in the past?  Whether reliving the glory days or trapped by long distant trauma, the past can have a powerful grip.

    For many, the past is seen through a rose colored filter.  The adventures of youth, the joys of childhood, or the memories of when our children were young can be engrossing.  Conversations frequently reference past events, coloring them rosy with the distance of time.  But that rosy filter is also a high, imposing wall.  That wall prevents people from enjoying the joys of this moment in time.  The adventures of youth were adventures, no doubt, but they were also frequently based in reckless, dangerous behavior.  Isn't part of growing up growing wiser?  Relishing past accomplishments can deter ambition for future goals.  And longing for the days when your children were younger?  What that same child hears is "They're not proud of whom I've become."

    Past trauma can be even more insidious.  We may think it dead and buried but it affects our behavior, our ability to trust, our daily existence.  Someone betrayed by a friend may never let anyone get that close to their heart ever again.  A woman cheated on may treat all men in her present and future as if they are automatically guilty.  A woman abused in childhood frequently finds herself with men who repeat the pattern over and over again.  That is truly being stuck in the past.  Until those issues are confronted and worked through, that past trauma is destined to be repeated.

    There are always lessons to be learned from the past.  But they are just that...lessons.  When you were in school, you didn't learn the same lesson ad infinitum.  You learned the lesson and you moved on to something new.  Rarely were the "good old days" really that good, they've been colored by time.  The grass wasn't any greener then.  If that is the mindset, you miss how brilliantly green it is now.  The present is all you have...right here and now.  The future is not guaranteed.  Do you really want to waste this precious time you are in by wishing for what is already gone?

    Look around.  What you have right now might not be the best you've ever been, ever had, or ever will be.  But it's what is real at this very moment.  Don't miss one single minute of joy by looking backwards.  Let the past go.


    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Happy Halloween!!!

    Remember, my little ghosts and are never too old to have a little fun!!  Happy Halloween, everybody!!

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    A Halloween Bufffet

    Disclaimer:  This is NOT for eating!!  This is strictly for creeping people out!!

    What you'll need:

    Blindfolds for your guests
    Creepy Halloween music or sound effects
    Various dishes
    Paper towels

    The Buffet:

    Cold, cooked spaghetti noodles for intestines
    Peeled grapes for eyeballs
    Dried apricots for tongues
    Un-popped popcorn for teeth
    Large peeled tomato for heart
    Corn silk for hair
    Slab of jello for liver
    Peeled melon half for brain
    Breadsticks for bones

    Set the body parts out in bowls on the table, out of view of your guests.  After blindfolding your guests, lead them around the table, letting them feel the body parts.  Prepare for squeals...even from the adults!!

    Happy Halloween!!

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    The Tables Have Turned

    I've been accused by my children on multiple (thousands) occasions of being a helicopter mom.  It's true, I am. Proud of it!!  But I have experienced that unique empty-nester phenomena of having the tables turned.

    My sons are incredibly (over)protective.  And this morning, something occurred that illustrates it perfectly.

    My oldest son (R.) is in the hospital.  He has a stomach bug and needed a potassium drip.  But he didn't call me to let me know.  Instead, he called his little brother (T.).  That way, T. could call me.  T.'s number would show up on the caller ID instead of the hospital's.  The exact quote from both of them? "We didn't want you to freak out, Mama."

    R. is 24, T. is 21.  I have been getting phone calls from hospitals in regards to both of them for a really long time...not to mention trips to the ER, meeting ambulances or daycare providers at the ER, etc.  Would the hospital's number on my caller ID have caused a heart pounding moment?  Yes, absolutely it would have.  Would it have precipitated a full-blown Mama freak-out?  Probably not.  As any mother of sons will tell you, you're always ready for that number to show up.

    But their hearts are so in the right place.  They have grown up to be men who consciously think about protecting the women in their lives, Mama included.  And you have to love that.  So let this particular table turn...I'll let them protect me whenever they want.  Is there such a term as helicopter kids?

    Enjoy your weekend, everybody!!

    Love, Jerri

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Be Done

    "Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    How hard is that for you to do?  I know for myself it's almost impossible.  I frequently beat myself up ad nauseam for things I've done, said, or missed.  Letting go has never been high on my list of personal skills.

    But aren't I just robbing myself?  I'm stealing precious moments from the present by lingering over mistakes from the past.  And I'm talking about things as trivial as forgetting the load in the dryer before I went to bed.  What joys am I missing today because I'm still living in the land of "I should have"?

    I don't expect perfection from my friends or my children.  Why do I then criticize myself for failing to achieve it?  Is it a gender issue?  Or is it generational, that I was raised with the expectation that I should be the perfect wife, mother, career woman, friend?  Could it be that I placed my own unattainable standards on myself?

    My nest is empty now.  My children are grown and gone.  I can't go back and fix what I think I did wrong.  You know what?  They turned out to be fantastic kids in spite of whatever mistakes I made!  

    Is my home always Martha Stewart perfect?  Oh hell, no!!!  But I've made the decision that time spent with friends is infinitely more valuable to me than polishing and primping.  That is something I won't change.

    So a new resolution for a new phase of life.  I'm not perfect.  No one, except for me, expects me to be.  I resolve to get a grip, let the past go, and enjoy this moment.  Time is getting short.  I can't afford to do otherwise.


    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Sony and Kobo

    While the Sony and Kobo e-readers are not among the most popular, I have found a site where owners of these two can download free e-books!

    The site is Inkmesh.  In addition to Sony and Kobo, they also list free books from Smashwords, Kindle, B&N, and Baen.  Searches can be made by title, author, genre, or e-reader.  They also list books that are not free but that can be helpful when searching for a particular author/title.

    Inkmesh can also be found on Twitter at @inkmesh.  I frequently use Twitter for finding free e-books as the tweets automatically appear on my Twitter homepage and I don't actually have to go looking for them.  Yes, I know, incredibly lazy but it works!!

    So head over to Inkmesh and download, download, download!!!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Electronic Tone

    What do I consider electronic tone?  The tone that you assign in your head to what other people have written, whether on social media or in an email.

    Am I guilty?  You bet!!  I have no doubt that I frequently read something in a tone that it was not intended.  We all view the world through our own filter and electronic media is no exception.  In fact, it is probably more prevalent in cyberspace as we don't have facial expressions and body language to supplement our perception.

    The ramifications of your electronic tone can be devastating.  What is typed as humor can be perceived as a personal insult, resulting in destroyed friendships.  Admittedly, you have to wonder about the validity of a friendship that can be dissolved by a few typed words but it happens and happens frequently.  And what if you happen to be in a bad mood?  That moment of lashing out in a post or an email is out there forever.  You can delete it, you can apologize...but like words you can't be taken back.

    The lesson to be learned?  That we all need to watch our electronic tone, even more than our actual tone.  There are people reading who will color what we say with their own perception.  While it's impossible to please everyone, we can take care with our words...both written and spoken.

    And those are my random thoughts this morning...


    Jerri's Empty Nest